Leaders cannot make a team be great, but they can put conditions in place to increase likelihood (although not guarantee) that a team will be effective.
Richard Hackman, argues that “the job of those who create, lead or coach teams it is not to exhort members to work together well, not to personally manage members’ collaborative work in real time, and certainly not to run their teams through a series of “team building” exercises intended to foster trust and harmony. The leaders’/coach’s work is to get the enabling conditions in place, to launch the team well, and only then to help members take the greatest possible advantage of their favorable performance circumstances.”
There is no single cause of team performance. Instead, it takes a set of conditions, operating together, to help a team move onto a track of ever-increasing competence as a performing unit.
There are six enabling conditions (Hackman 2002, 2011):
- A real team with clear membership, boundaries, interdependence of work and stability
- Compelling team purpose to guide team’s work.
- Right people on the team with the knowledge, skills and experience to perform the requisite work.
- A clear set of norms / agreements to guide how they can work together.
- Organizational support that provides the information, time and resources to be able to do their work.
- Competent team coaching aimed a helping team members grow individually and as a team.
Hackman says that 60% of the variation in team effectiveness depends on the degree to which the six enabling conditions are in place, 30% on the quality of a team’s launch, and just 10% on the leader’s/coache’s hands-on, real-time coaching – the 60-30-10 rule.
An up-front investment in developing a performance strategy that takes explicit account of a team’s task requirements, its performance context, and the outcomes it is expected to achieving can generate substantial dividends later.
If teamwork problems stem from basic flaws in the way a team is set up and supported, then improvements will require attention to those foundational features, not just to how members relate to one another or how they go about their work.
Design the foundational structures well and put the right people in place first.
Another important aspect of Organizational Context is culture. That evil entity that is causing all problems in organizations trying to change 🙂 .
Culture is a complex topic, but it´s worth taking it into account and perhaps using a cultural assessment tool.